Competent vs. incompetent on International Women's Day

March 8 was International Women's Day, and it was derived out of the original 'International Working Women's Day' movement formed by the Socialist Party in American in 1909.  However, its greatest expansion and recognition came thanks to the formation of the Soviet Union a decade later.

The foundations behind the establishment of an annual day dedicated to working women are somewhat in question dependent upon the source, but at the heart of the cause was the ultimate demand for women's suffrage that also manifested itself in the need for better working conditions after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist fire that killed 146 (123 women) in New York City.

Today this battle for recognition has become immensely complex as the 1960's saw the fight for women's rights escalate from one of equality to that of individuality, and it has carried over into the 21st century with a demand not for just equal pay for equal work, but for both a seat at the table, and in particular, a seat at the High Table of corporate America.

Over the past decade there has been a shift in the Western economy, especially following the 2008 Credit Crisis that saw more men laid off from jobs than women.  And while the world continues to make International Women's Day a global celebration, the most important concept in the battle for equality has been long left behind, which is the idea that we should celebrate competent women in places of power rather than facilitate a quota system where companies and corporations must promote women to fill some politically correct checklist.

We could spend time here comparing and contrasting women who have or currently run Fortune 500 companies at the CEO position, but I believe it is more appropriate to compare three women who are in charge of some of the most important financial offices in the world as it provides an apples to apples look at women who have earned their place because of merit, versus those who were appointed to their offices simply for political expediency.

Janet Yellen: Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve - Incompetent

Janet Yellen was nominated to replace Ben Bernanke as head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and had previously spent 20 years working within the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors system, including a stint as the President of the San Francisco Fed from 2004-2010.

Over the course of the last decade it has been shown time and time again that Yellen was ignorant to the mechanisms of both markets and economies, and admitted multiple times that she did not see the collapse of 2008 coming despite access to hundreds of economists and the best data available.

In a 2005 speech in San Francisco, Yellen argued against deflating the housing bubble because “arguments against trying to deflate a bubble outweigh those in favor of it” and predicted that the housing bubble “could be large enough to feel like a good-sized bump in the road, but the economy would likely be able to absorb the shock.” In 2010, Yellen told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that she and other San Francisco Fed officials looked for guidance from Washington because “she had not explored the San Francisco Fed’s ability to act unilaterally,” according to the New York Times. Yellen conceded her previous misjudgment of the housing crisis to the Commission: “I guess I thought that similar to the collapse of the stock market around the tech bubble, that most likely the economy could withstand [the housing collapse] and the Fed could move to support the economy the way it had after the tech bubble collapsed.”

— Wikipedia

In recent times the central bank Chief has begun to enact illogical monetary policies by choosing to raise interest rates when the economy is in a deflationary environment rather than inflationary.  And this policy was done more to aid the dwindling credibility of the Fed rather than perform any real function that would assist in helping the economy out of its newest spiral into recession.

Bottom line.  Janet Yellen's ascension to the head of the world's most powerful central bank was accomplished not by ability or merit, but by simple longevity and the need to appease the politically correct by a President who himself is the epitome of incompetent.

Christine Lagarde: Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Incompetent

Christine Lagarde was voted to become the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July of 2011, and has held the position ever since.  She is also considered by Forbes to be the 6th most powerful woman in the world.

Lagarde began her career in France as a lawyer and union politician that eventually helped her rise to the position of both Finance Minister in France, and the Finance Minister of the Eurozone.  And during her time in office the European Union was able to be taken over in a bloodless financial coup where a troika that included the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission, and the IMF began to dominate the economic and financial policies of all member states.

It is the result of the Greek debt crisis that may be the lasting sign of Lagarde's incompetence and unwillingness to correctly deal with what she herself knew was 'unsustainable' and onerous debt for the Greek government.  And this was shown not only in her breaking the IMF's own rules regarding bailouts, but also in joining with the ECB and EC to compound Greece's problems to where they can never get out from under the financial mess created by the three institutions.

A recent IMF document conceded this and more (see Joseph Cotterill’s detailed deconstruction of text), which implies that the heads of the IMF — Dominique Strauss-Kahn (until May 2011) followed by Christine Lagarde — violated the allegedly sacrosanct rules of the IMF by joining the “bailout” programs of European Central Bank and the European Commission.

Ben Chu in the Independent calls this a violation of IMF rules by its managing directors as the organization’s biggest blunder since it was founded (I would nominate the Fund’s program for Indonesia in the late 1990s for that distinction).

— OpenDemocracy.Net

Bottom Line: Christine Lagarde's tenure as head of the IMF has not only helped expand the debt crisis for Greece and many other European states, but it has seen their role as a Western controlled bank lose authority and prestige as China now takes over as the main creator of progress through institutions like the AIIB and Bricks Bank.  And also under Lagarde's watch, China has been able to seize partial control over the IMF through its inclusion into their SDR basket of currencies.

Elvira Nabiullina: Head of the Russian Central Bank - Competent

Elvira Nabiullina has a long history working in different segments of the financial world, beginning her career immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union.  From 1991 to 2013 when she took over as head of the Russian central bank,  she functioned in positions as diverse as the Russian Union if Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the Ministry of Finance and Economics, and eventually becoming President Putin's primary economic adviser.

However, it is Nabiullina's quick and extraordinary work during the Russian Ruble crisis of 2014 that has escalated her status as one of the most competent women in the financial world today.  Shirking off growing fears of a currency collapse, Nabiullina calmly waited until the precise moment and channeled her 'Paul Volker' moment by raising interest rates to not only stabilize the Ruble, but help it recover nearly 20% in the subsequent months.

It was Dec. 16 — the day Russian traders would later christen Black Tuesday — and the ruble was in a freefall.

“Intervene! Intervene!” a central bank official shouted.

Governor Elvira Nabiullina watched the currency on her tablet screen react to her emergency rate increase. No, she said, not this time: Russia would no longer fight the market. Speculators needed a cold shower, she said.

That daring decision, related by two people with knowledge of the meeting, has begun to pay off for Nabiullina, 51, and her patron, President Vladimir Putin. Despite sanctions meant to punish Russia for its foray into Ukraine a year ago, the ruble has stabilized. Since Black Tuesday, when it plunged to a record low, the ruble has rebounded 19 percent against the dollar, the most among 24 emerging-market currencies.

While her central bank is nominally independent, analysts agree Putin is ultimately in charge. Yet Nabiullina has emerged as a power in her own right, with a direct line to the president.

Nabiullina isn’t afraid to speak up. When aides urged Putin to impose capital controls last year, she fought against the move and pushed for a freely floating ruble, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Putin heeded her advice — and then let Nabiullina sort out the details.

“It was a historic moment because she convinced Putin to accept a market solution to a problem that threatened the whole banking system,” UBS AG Russia Chairman Rair Simonyan said. Russia might well have veered into economic isolation, he said.

What Nabiullina came up with turned out to be one of the biggest financial gambles of Putin’s 15-year rule. First she raised interest rates to punishingly high levels, lifting the benchmark rate to 17 percent from 10.5 percent in one stroke. Then she stepped back from intervening on the currency market.

— Bloomberg

So as we look back on yesterday's International Women's Day, we see three women who have climbed to some of the highest career peaks in financial world.  And in two of them, we see little more than politically correct appointments and incompetence which has made the crisis of 2008 not only much worse, but perhaps irrevocable from a course of eventual destruction.  And in another woman we see incredible competence and the patience to stay the course for what she knew was the right policy, and earn the respect as an equal from one of the most powerful leaders in the world.